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Relieving White Guilt: The Expectation That Black People Should Carry the Burden of Forgiveness

After an act of violence is committed against a member of a Black family, a mother, a father or a grieving relative is trotted out in front of a slew of cameras and microphones, usually by a white reporter, and asked to forgive the perpetrator. And, without hesitation, most usually do.

The past two years have been a testament to this occurrence. With the onslaught of police-brutality cases like South Carolina’s Walter Scott and Tulsa’s Terence Crutcher making international headlines, news outlets seeking to boost ratings routinely interview the devastated family members of the Black victims. Invariably, one of the first questions asked is, “Do you forgive him?” And for whatever reason, the family member usually says they do.

But why are white families rarely, if ever, asked this question, especially if the perpetrator is Black?

Atlanta Black Star looks at recent examples of Black people being asked to forgive white people who harmed them or murdered their loved ones.



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